Objective: Assess outcomes of patient nutrition counseling.
Design: A descriptive study based on the results of a telephone interview performed 2 to 8 weeks after counseling.
Subjects/setting: Subjects were 400 adult patients referred for nutrition counseling at 2 academic health centers. Of these, 274 patients received nutrition counseling during hospitalization and 126 as outpatients.
Statistical analysis: Descriptive statistics were used to summarize data and the Mann-Whitney U statistic and logistic regressions were used to test significant differences (P < .05) between inpatient and outpatient counseling outcomes.
Results: Most patients (83%) gave a partial or full description of their diet modifications and 79% had a moderate or good understanding of their diet. Most patients reported that the dietitian's advice was suited to their special needs (88%) and that they knew what to eat (83%). A majority (62%) had made dietary changes, but 17% said they had had trouble changing their diets as suggested. After talking with a dietitian, 57% felt better emotionally, 37% felt better physically, 64% felt in control of their condition, and 43% noticed improved health indicators. Initial analysis indicated that outpatients reported better outcomes than inpatients; further analysis showed that these differences could be attributed to younger ages among the outpatient sample.
Applications/conclusions: Patient nutrition counseling has positive outcomes. Therefore, key counseling points should be introduced or reinforced in inpatient settings, in conjunction with multiple-session protocols during the pre- and/or posthospitalization continuum of care. Dietitians, managers, administrators, and credentialing agencies should work together to secure and promote the necessary physical, personnel, and financial resources to make this happen.